International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire

Historical fire regime shifts related to climate teleconnections in the Waswanipi area, central Quebec, Canada

Héloïse Le Goff A E , Mike D. Flannigan B , Yves Bergeron C and Martin P. Girardin D

A Centre d’Étude de la Forêt, Université du Québec à Montréal, Succursale centre-ville, CP 8888, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada.

B Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, 1219 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2E5, Canada.

C NSERC/UQAT/UQAM Industrial Chair in Sustainable Forest Management, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 445 Bd de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X 5E4, Canada.

D Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, 1055 du PEPS, PO Box 10380, Stn. Sainte-Foy, Québec, QC G1V 4C7, Canada.

E Corresponding author. Email:

International Journal of Wildland Fire 16(5) 607-618
Submitted: 17 November 2006  Accepted: 15 May 2007   Published: 26 October 2007


The synchrony of regional fire regime shifts across the Quebec boreal forest, eastern Canada, suggests that regional fire regimes are influenced by large-scale climate variability. The present study investigated the relationship of the forest-age distribution, reflecting the regional fire activity, to large-scale climate variations. The interdecadal variation in forest fire activity in the Waswanipi area, north-eastern Canada, was reconstructed over 1720–2000. Next, the 1880–2000 reconstructed fire activity was analysed using different proxies of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). We estimated the global fire cycle around 132–153 years, with a major lengthening of the fire cycle from 99 years before 1940, to 282 years after 1940. Correlations between decadal fire activity and climate indices indicated a positive influence of the PDO. The positive influence of PDO on regional fire activity was also validated using t-tests between fire years and non-fire years between 1899 and 1996. Our results confirmed recent findings on the positive influence of the PDO on the fire activity over northern Quebec and the reinforcing role of the NAO in this relationship.

Additional keywords: bootstrapped Pearson correlations, fire history, Multidecadal Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation.


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